The North Island Bantam Eagles undefeated season came to an end on Saturday at the hands of the Tier 2 Juan De Fuca Grizzlies.
The action-packed game kicked off at 2:00 p.m. at the Don Cruickshank Memorial Arena in Port Hardy, and the first period ended up being quite the stalemate as neither team was able to put the puck in the net.
Into the second period the game went, and that was when power forward Tye Morash got the feed at the blue line from Landon Turgeon and fired a hard slap shot past Grizzlies’ goaltender Jesse Pye at 18:01.
The Eagles would go on the power play just a couple minutes later, and sniper Zach Spafford was waiting in the slot for a pass from Jack Barrett. Spafford then wristed the puck home at 16:59 to give the Eagles a big two-goal lead.
The Grizzlies would return fire at 16:16 courtesy of Zachary Wetherell, assist on the play going to Logan Bainbridge, and then they received a power play opportunity of their own, but it was Spafford who stole the puck, skated in and fired it past Pye to give the Eagles a 3-1 lead (Spafford now has 11 goals in only eight league games).
The Grizzlies, however, refused to quit on themselves.
Matthew Quigley converted at 13:33 (assists going to Wetherell and Parker Atkinson), and then Benjamin Swan fired the puck past Eagles’ goaltender Logan Lamothe at 12:12 to tie the game right back up.
After the ice clean, it was the Eagles who would strike next.
Christopher Topfer got the pass from Garrett Beek and fired a hard shot past Pye to make it 4-3 for the hometown team.
With the lead in hand, the Eagles went into the third period determined to keep the Grizzlies off the scoreboard, but the Grizzlies had other ideas, and they ended up scoring three unanswered goals courtesy of Swan, Jakob Fikowski, and Atkinson (Assists went to Sather, Elijah Kim, Colton Trotter, and Wetherell) to skate away with a 6-4 victory.
“When you are unsuccessful it’s easy to focus on all the negatives right away,” said head coach Glenn Moore after the game, noting his team had “breakdowns in our own end, lazy unproductive back checks, and untimely penalties.”
While the loss was a bit of a bitter pill to swallow for the Eagles after winning seven straight league games, Moore stated that “After the game we talked about the positive things. The coaching staff feels we raised our bar today, and we did a lot of very good things offensively — we showed a Tier 2 team that we can play with them. We had a lot of very good chances late but didn’t capitalize, and they scored on their chances. They will remember playing us and will be prepared for us next time.”
Moore added the coaching staff will make sure to address the issues when the team “gets back to work at practice.”